Lottie Turon, a longtime resident of Oak Creek, will never forget the day the pipes froze.
She was about 8 at the time. Her mother took in other people's washing to make a living, "so there we are with a whole bunch of washing" and no water, Turon said.
Luckily, Turon's family lived next door to Ed and Ruby Chevalier. As soon as Ruby Chevalier found out about her neighbors' dilemma, she came up with a solution.
"She ran a hose from her house to our house so we could have water," Turon said. "That's just the type of person that she is. ... She's just basically done favors for her neighbors and anyone else in town."
Whenever Ruby Chevalier's name comes up among her friends and family in Routt County, it seems hard for people not to point out how Chevalier always has been willing to help anyone and everyone.
Chevalier said that being a "helping hand" to her neighbors is just a way of life.
"It was just one of those things where if you knew somebody who needed help, you helped them," Chevalier said. "You didn't think nothing about it."
On June 17, Chevalier turned 90. She has lived all 90 of those years in the Oak Creek area and can remember when every road through town was dirt and Main Street was flanked by wooden boardwalks.
Oak Creek is where she went to school, met her husband at a dance, married him at age 16 and then raised their three children.
Although it's more difficult for her to see and hear these days, her way of life hasn't changed much.
She mows her own lawn. She frequently visits with her family, which includes nine grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren. She keeps up with her friends.
And she collects.
Collecting, it seems, is just as much a part of Chevalier's way of life as helping others.
The light-green house she lives in is almost a collector's item itself: it's the same house that she and her husband, Ed, moved into in 1937. To get the house, the couple traded their new Chevy for it; Chevalier said the homeowner "really wanted to get out of town." The Chevy was worth about $900 at the time.
With a step inside the house, Chevalier's knack at collecting is dazzlingly obvious. She has more than a dozen bookcases and shelves, all of which are tightly packed with carefully organized bottles, music boxes, lamps, figurines made of copper, brass and ceramics, and more.
Chevalier started her collections with cobalt glass in 1981, the year her husband died.
She bought one antique glass eye-washer.
Now she has two cases filled with pieces of the deep blue glass that are shaped into birds, vases, trees, ashtrays, jars. She has a third case filled with old blue Avon bottles shaped like cars and motorcycles.
In another corner is a case of ceramic red elf figurines and seashell artwork. Opposite it is a case of bronze bells, dancers, dishes and all animals imaginable, from giraffes and whales to deer and pigs.
There are music boxes -- one is a copper windmill that plays "The Impossible Dream" from "The Man of La Mancha" and another has Disney's Aladdin riding a carpet to the tune of "A Whole New World."
There are collections of dolls and lamps and flowers and clocks and more.
"If you just look around at my walls, everything is full," Chevalier says.
Pointing to dozens of necklaces and strings of beads hanging in her bedroom, she said, "I've collected jewelry but I never wear it. I'm allergic to metals."
Chevalier's house is well known to her friends. One of her friends says the house is more fun than a museum, because visitors can take their time walking around and can always find something new.
"I didn't start out to collect this stuff," Chevalier said, adding that many of the pieces in her collections come from trips to garage sales where she'll find a piece that's worth at least $20 for only 25 cents.
"You see something and you think, 'Gee, you can't go wrong.'"
Chevalier also collects plants. She has plants of many species and stages of life growing inside her house and greenhouse. Most of the plants she has started from seeds or cuttings.
"Everyplace you look (there) are plants," she said, walking around the greenhouse that connects to her bedroom.
"People say you can't grow things, so I say, 'You'll see,'" she said.
One of Chevalier's three children, Ruby Lou Peters, said she did not inherit Chevalier's knack for keeping things green. But she said she did get Chevalier's love of collecting.
Chevalier remembered, with a sigh of exasperation, how Peters would save up candy wrappers in a drawer when she was a child.
"Well, they were pretty and I didn't want to throw them away," Peters said.
Peters also was quick to say that her mother helped out in every aspect of her children's lives.
"She was always involved with us kids in school," Peters said, adding that she has memories of coming home with bunches of friends and having her mother invite everyone in for a big meal.
"Everybody knew us, and we knew everybody," Peters said.
For Chevalier's 90th birthday party last month, more than 250 friends and relatives came to Yampa to celebrate. Chevalier still has a grocery bag filled with cards she received.
With her love of meeting and helping people, Chevalier has been able to collect more than just knickknacks. She has also collected friends, families and memories.
-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203
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